Native Learning: How Cannabis Dispensaries Are Re-Thinking How They Train Their Budtenders

Native Learning is a simple and revolutionary approach to training your frontline budtenders that is proven to increase retention, boost engagement, and drive revenue.

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Your frontline employees are the face of your business. As the cannabis market expands, and new dispensaries and infused product brands compete for customers, the customer service and in-store experience will be key differentiators of the dispensaries that thrive. Consumers are four times as likely to switch brands or companies after just a single, sub-par service experience. So how do you keep your employees happy, motivated, and providing the best possible experience in the midst of managing the day-to-day operations of a busy dispensary?

It all starts with the right approach to training.

Customer service is a tough job. Employees need tools that support their learning and professional development in a manageable way, rather than just adding one more “to do” to their workload. Much like native advertising has taken social media by storm as a way to seamlessly connect with audiences, Best in Grow is pioneering native learning as the next generation in employee training and continuing education.

What is native learning?

The Best in Grow platform was built upon the notion that happy, knowledgeable employees create happy, loyal customers, ultimately driving the lifetime value of customer relationships. For that reason, we’ve based our entire software suite on the concept of embedded, native learning.

Put simply, native learning is the idea of creating a single source for employee knowledge and training and offering information in a near-constant stream of consumable bites, rather than in a one-and-done training experience or through hours of tedious and outdated classroom work.

And the benefits aren’t just limited to training

For example, dispensaries who use the Best in Grow platform for native learning can manage virtually every aspect of their business in one place. From scheduling shifts to managing tasks and providing feedback, Best in Grow is designed to take the complexity out of sharing information.

92% of consumers make their purchase based on the recommendation of a budtender at the point of sale. If your employees don’t have the right product information to guide customers toward the right products to meet their needs, you run the risk of losing out on repeat business and harming your brand reputation. Moreover, the compliance-intensive nature of the cannabis industry necessitates building a culture obsessed with accountability, traceability, and constant improvement.

Native learning vs. learning management systems

With traditional learning management systems (LMS), users watch long, drawn-out videos, scroll through endless pages of content, or flip through dozens of slides. Afterward, they are asked to take a quiz to prove they’ve learned enough and are sufficiently “trained” and ready to support the business.

There are a couple of obvious problems with an LMS approach. First, it’s not hard to skip the actual content and then look up the final answers for the quiz. Knowledge is not truly absorbed by the learner, wasting valuable time and resources. Secondly, we all remember what it was like in school to sit through lecture after lecture, retaining information long enough to make it through the test and then wiping our brains of it like a dry-erase board. Example: do you remember who the 13th President was? That’s okay. Nobody does.

(It was Millard Fillmore, by the way.)

Now, imagine if you were presented with a steady flow of information throughout the course of your time as a student--almost imperceptibly ingrained in your day-to-day activities, so that you could read and remember it with little effort. Suddenly, the learning process doesn’t feel so overwhelming, and your ability to comprehend what you read comes more naturally and sticks around long-term so you can use it when you need it.

How will native learning impact your business goals?

Native learning doesn’t just benefit your employees. It has the potential to impact nearly every facet of your business. Here’s how:

Streamlined operations

At Best in Grow, we’re obsessed with helping dispensaries to create a professional culture with standout staff and a reputation for great customer service. When building and launching our software, we realized that busy dispensary managers don’t have time to manage a dozen different tools and applications to share information with their employees.

Through Best in Grow, we’ve embedded shift scheduling, task management, employee surveys, private messaging, POS analytics and extensive product and compliance information (and more) inside one simple, mobile-first application.

Our platform also acts as a private social network for your team where they can share information with each other and with your management team. It also puts business updates, product content, and other critical information for sales, compliance, or customer service front and center.

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Greater employee loyalty

It’s no secret that the happier employees are, the longer they tend to stay with a company, but that’s not even the best part. Consider this: businesses with highly-engaged employees outperform those that lack employee engagement by over 200%.

Imagine if you were asked to build a house and someone gave you a picture of what they want the house to look like, but no blueprint or tools to make it. That’s how employees feel when they are given sales or customer satisfaction goals to meet, and they have to scramble to find the information they need to be successful.

Native learning empowers employees to access information before, during, and after every point of sale interaction, so they can offer customers a better experience in the moment and then continue to grow their sales and product knowledge for the next customer to step up to the counter.

Competitive differentiation

The cannabis industry is growing quickly, with new dispensaries popping up all the time. With so many options in the market, there is a huge opportunity for dispensaries to differentiate themselves by building a reputation for product knowledge and customer service.

Brands will continue to rely on frontline employees to consume, retain, and communicate product information to consumers. On the flip side of that, they also want to hear feedback from those influential budtenders that they can then use to refine and develop new products. A native learning approach is the ideal way to share information and generate that two-way feedback.

Best practices for native learning

If you’re ready to implement native learning in your dispensary, here are a few tips to accelerate employee adoption and help get quick results.

Decide on objectives before you launch

What are the main goals you want to accomplish with your native learning content? If you’re not sure, ask your employees what information will make their jobs easier. Talk to suppliers for ideas on product training and content. As you get a better vision for the training plan, you can cut out the noise and get straight to the learning modules and content that will best help your team.

Gamify it

Everyone loves a friendly competition. As you roll out new information or goals for your team, create challenges and games to incent employees to adopt the native learning platform and consume content.

Make it accessible

Native learning only works if it’s available when your team needs it. Best in Grow, for example, is accessible via iOS, Android, or web applications to ensure that budtenders and managers can find what they need no matter where they happen to be working or what device they are using.

Seek feedback

As your employees use native learning and become comfortable with the platform, don’t neglect to ask for their feedback. What new product information could you add to help them feel like experts when they talk to customers? What kind of challenges and games motivate them? Just as you expect your employees to get feedback from your customers, you can collect input from employees to keep them invested in your company culture and a lasting part of your team.

Information can be your competitive advantage as a dispensary owner or operator, and innovation like native learning can help attract and retain talented employees to manage your frontline and set your dispensary apart from the crowd.

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